The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) unveiled its new $50-million performance space today, a 40,000-square-foot brick edifice designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Attached to the back of part of a historic 1928 former Salvation Army building, the venue will host experimental shows by lesser-known artists and offer expanded educational facilities.
With a snug 250-seat auditorium, the Richard B. Fisher Building is a much smaller companion to BAM’s neighboring Howard Gilman Opera House (2,100 seats) and Harvey Theater (874 seats). The venue will showcase emerging and local talent, particularly non-traditional acts that might not have the marketing power to fill one of BAM’s larger theaters. The space was designed for artistic risk-taking and the auditorium’s flexible seating can be rearranged for various shows, according to Joe Melillo, BAM’s executive producer.
For its debut season, the Fisher Building (321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn) will host BAM’s 30th Next Wave Festival, which runs from Sept. 5 to Jan. 19. Tickets for shows are $20.
Rendering (c) H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
The new seven-level building, which took two years to construct, is an addition to the pre-existing two-story Salvation Army structure. The old building is now the theater’s lobby.
Photo (c) Julieta Cervantes
Photos (c) Laura Mirviss
Hugh Hardy says the new venue is part of BAM’s effort to expand its reach by featuring local performers and offering more classes, talks, and workshops. “For the first time, BAM has a space that looks at the community it is trying to serve,” says Hardy, who has worked on numerous renovation projects for BAM and has become its unofficial in-house architect.
The Fisher Building’s rooftop, adorned with native Brooklyn plants, is a mixed-use space for parties, classes, and small performances.
A weather-accommodating sliding glass enclosure blocks off a section of the 1,400-square-foot deck.
A “tension grid,” a trampoline-like canopy, stretches 21 feet above the performance space and replaces the traditional theater catwalk.
Below the lobby, the basement will have a coat check, drink carts, benches, tables, and bathrooms.